Local Healthcare Update

Darrold Bertsch is the CEO of Coal Country Community Health Center in Beulah and also the CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center in Hazen.

By Darrold Bertsch

This is the first in what I hope can be a longstanding monthly healthcare update. A week ago, I sat down with Stacy Swenson, publisher of the Dunn County Herald to talk about the changes taking place at the Killdeer Medical Clinic. During those discussions Stacy also asked if I’d be willing to write a monthly article to keep people informed on local healthcare services. I thought it was a great idea and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share information with you.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard something about changes at the Killdeer Medical Clinic. Let me just shed some light on what’s happening over the next several months. The Killdeer Medical Clinic which is currently owned and operated by CHI St. Joseph’s Health in Dickinson will be transitioning clinic services to Coal Country Community Health Center on August 24, 2015. The new name of the clinic will be Coal Country Community Health Center, Killdeer (CCCHC Killdeer).

So why is this change happening? CHI St. Joseph’s Health and Coal Country Community Health Center have been visiting for some time now on how primary care/clinic services might be able to be enhanced in the Killdeer area. When an opportunity became available for Coal Country to apply for a federal grant that would help with costs associated with operating a clinic and could provide financial assistance to those individuals needing clinic services who may be uninsured or underinsured, the organizations worked together in order for CCCHC to submit a federal grant application. In April CCCHC was informed that the grant application had been approved and CCCHC could develop a Community Health Center clinic in Killdeer.

So what is a community health center? A community health center is typically a non-profit, community driven clinic that provides primary and preventative care services to individuals regardless of their ability to pay. These services include medical and behavioral/mental health services, and some health centers also offer dental services. Community Health Centers work closely with public health and other area healthcare providers to better meet the needs of the population being served. In order for the needs of the Killdeer area to be effectively communicated and addressed, CCCHC will be seeking representation from the Killdeer area to serve on the Coal Country Community Health Center Board of Directors. We also hope to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment soon in order to get a broad perspective of the current needs and opportunities that exist.

What can local patients expect with this change? Our plan is to have the clinic open 5 days per week, once fully staffed. Several of the current clinic staff members you are familiar with will continue to be at the clinic to provide care to you after the transition to Coal Country Community Health Center on August 24th. We will also be hiring additional staff and an additional provider in order to meet what we see are the needs of the area. We plan on expanding the services available at the clinic, such as expanding the lab services available locally and we again plan on offering x-ray services. Other services such as behavioral health services, diabetic education, nutrition services of a licensed dietitian and assistance with prescription medications are also being planned for the future.

Current patients of the clinic should be receiving a letter from St. Joseph’s Health regarding the changes in the clinic operation. Included with this letter will be a Release of Information form that must be completed in order for your patient records to be maintained at the Coal Country Community Health Center clinic in Killdeer. Please fill out the Release of Information form and return it to the clinic so that you can continue to receive care locally. If you’re currently not using the local clinic, please consider utilizing the services that will be available.

I want to thank the staff of St. Joseph’s Health and the Killdeer Medical Clinic for their service to the community and look forward to working with the local community, businesses and governmental entities in providing for the healthcare needs of the area. I’ll have more information about the Coal Country Community Health Center, Killdeer Clinic operations and Community Health Centers in general for you next month. Until then, stay well.

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